Browser vs. Screen

From John Gruber (emphasis mine):

This is a fundamentally different vision for the coming decade than Google’s. In both cases, your data is in the cloud, and you can access it from anywhere with a network connection. But Google’s vision is about software you run in a web browser. Apple’s is about native apps you run on devices. Apple is as committed to native apps — on the desktop, tablet, and handheld — as it has ever been.

Google’s frame is the browser window. Apple’s frame is the screen. That’s what we’ll remember about today’s keynote ten years from now.

Google sells ads – search and the browser make sense for that market. Apple sells apps and devices – appstores and screens make sense for that market.

But doesn’t Google sell apps? And doesn’t Apple sell ads? Yes, but neither is very enthusiastic about it.

Gruber’s commentary is succinct and right on.

But what about Facebook? They sell ads, too, and Facebook’s frame is the browser window. But Facebook also has device-native apps, so their frame is the screen too.

Is Facebook going to get the best of both worlds? Their own ad revenue built on the backs of Google’s browser and Apple’s screens?

Two views on developing for Apple

Two different (opposing?) views on developing for the Apple ecosystem after today’s WWDC love-fest announcements:

The first is from Des Traynor’s post, “Playing their game”:

Apple always look out for their customers. They will always look to improve the experience. If that means adding software to their platform then so be it. If that software is in direct competition with your software, then so be it. If they roll out the software as a free update across all operating systems, leaving you for dead, then so be it.

Their ball. Their game. Their rules.

The second is from Marco Arment’s post, “What Safari’s Reading List means for Instapaper”:

So I’m tentatively optimistic. Our world changes quickly, especially on the cutting edge, and I really don’t know what’s going to happen. (Nobody does.) But the more potential scenarios I consider, the more likely it seems that Safari’s Reading List is either going to have no noticeable effect on Instapaper, or it will improve sales dramatically. Time will tell.

Des says you should stay the heck out of Apple’s way. If Apple might ever create it, you don’t want to be anywhere near it. If Apple decides to create the thing that you’ve created, they’ll kill your business. That makes sense.

(He also says that Apple looks out for their customers, which is almost, but not completely, incorrect. Apple looks out for their customers’ money, not their customers. It’s an important distinction.)

Marco says a rising tide lifts all boats. Apple’s new (free) product looks a lot like Marco’s existing (not free) product. Most people don’t know offline reading exists, so with Apple’s (free) publicity he hopes more people use an offline reader, and if he gets some new revenue he makes out okay. That makes sense too.

It sounds like Des thinks of Apple as powerful, childish tyrant. “You don’t want to be around when Apple loses its temper!”

Marco, however, seems to think of Apple as a morally neutral, unstoppable force of nature. “Good thing my boat is ready to sail, because we’re gonna get a lot of rain!”

Des and Marco each seem to be glad to be where they are, out of Apple’s direct path or in it.

Who is right? Apple: steer clear, or sail near?

And where are you? Out of Apple’s direct path (or Google’s, or Microsoft’s, or Salesforce’s, or Oracle’s…) or in it?

Google closing Austin office

It seems like just yesterday Google was celebrating the opening of their new office in downtown Austin, Texas – actually, it was mid-October, 2008, according to the Austin American Statesman (google has the story in their cache, but the Statesman’s link doesn’t work).

But today Google announced that they are closing the Austin office, along with offices in Trondheim, Norway and Lulea, Sweden, in order to “build larger and more effective teams, reduce communication overhead, and give engineers increased options for future projects” :

Google says they’ll try to keep people from those sites at Google, but of course the employees would have to move to larger Google sites.  That makes sense for Google in terms of managing tons of projects, sites and people, but that’s a real bummer for the Austin Googlers.

Again, from the Statesman:

“We really do like Austin, we like the engineers in Austin, we like the town, we like the geography, but there just wasn’t any way in the short term or medium term to really grow the office to the size that Austin deserves,” [said Alan Eustace, Google senior vice president of engineering].

Hopefully Austin tech companies can pick up some good talent from those who don’t want to leave Austin.

Presentation Presence

A software vendor gave a sales presentation at my office today.

The vendor sent two people to present – a sales guy and an engineer.

The sales guy started the pitch with an overview of the software. Sounds great, says us, but we need a bunch of technical details to know if it’s worth pursuing. This is a critical piece of software, it will interact with a lot of internal systems, and so we need to know what we’re getting ourselves into.

So we ask a bunch of questions which the engineer answers to our satisfaction. Probably 30 or 45 minutes go by, mostly a back-and-forth between us and the engineer. He knows his stuff, and he seems to enjoy telling us about their technology.

The sales guy doesn’t have much to contribute, which is fine. Or rather, it would have been fine, if Mr. Salesguy would have appeared to be paying attention, or at least not acting distracted and bored.

Instead Mr. Salesguy checks his email. Checks his voicemail. Fiddles with his pen. Fools around on his computer for a while. Does a lot of things that tell me he doesn’t care about this sale. All with a look of “Get me out of here” on his face. Which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence or help the sale at all.

What’s the lesson here? When you make a sales pitch / presentation / demo / whatever, make sure that every single member of your team is devoting 100% of their attention to the customer. Even if you’re not currently speaking, even if you’ll never speak – act interested! Better yet, BE interested! And if you can’t get interested, then you probably don’t need to be there in the first place.

How Much Do You Make?

This piece from talks about what would happen at a company if everyone knew what everyone else made. I’ve had that conversation a number of times, but I didn’t know of any company that had actually done it until I read that article: Whole Foods lets any employee see what any other employee makes.

“Our books are open to our Team Members, including our annual individual compensation report.”

There it is in their Core Values, plain as day. Another interesting bit from their Core Values:

We recognize there is a community of interest among all of our stakeholders. There are no entitlements; we share together in our collective fate. To that end we have a salary cap that limits the compensation (wages plus profit incentive bonuses) of any Team Member to nineteen times the average total compensation of all full-time Team Members in the company.

A quick look at Whole Foods over at Yahoo Finance says that their highest paid exec made $371,000 of pay (salary + bonuses). If that’s the high end of the “19 times average total compensation” figure then the average full time Whole Foods employee makes $19,500. That works out to about $9.39 per hour, assuming 52 forty-hour work weeks per year.

Is that a lot of money for a grocery store employee? I don’t know, I’ve never worked in a grocery store.

But I do know this: I shop at Whole Foods a lot, and I am almost always struck by how happy their employees seem. The girl at the register seems to be enjoying her job as she chats with customers and coworkers. The folks in the wine and beer sections are excited to help me track down a particular beverage, and seem as satisfied as I am when they find it. The gelato guy really wants to know what I think about the new mint-pineapple-ginger flavor.

Does the company’s openness about compensation make their employees any happier? I don’t know, but it sure doesn’t look like it hurts.